FUCHSIA – A GARDEN PLANT
By Jeanne Rose – July 2020
INTRODUCTION ~ I always knew Fuchsia as Zauschneria californica. And then one-day I was reading about it in a botany book and all of a sudden, the genus name had changed to Fuchsia. The first was fun to say but the latter, on the other hand, was easier to remember. I particularly enjoy the beauty of this Fuchsia. I don’t know the species only that it is a hybrid growing in my yard since 1975. It went through the great fungus blight in the 70s and now looks beautiful. I do have to continually watch it and remove any spotty, fungus’y leaves.
Fuchsia HISTORY ~ Fuchsia were named after a botanist and the color was named after the plant. The botanist, Charles Plumier, a French Catholic priest, named this plant after the 16th century German botanist, Leonhart Fuchs. This first fuchsia was brought to the attention of the west by Plumier who came across the plant that is now classified as Fuchsia triphylla while on a plant-hunting expedition in the Dominican Republic in 1695. He named it in honor of the 16th-century German doctor and herbalist, Leonhart Fuchs. Plumier’s samples were lost in a shipwreck, but he published drawings of them in 1703.
Europeans were first introduced to Fuchsias after the Spanish conquest of the Incas, but because the plants had no apparent value as a food or medicine, little attention was paid to them. The first Fuchsias finally arrived in London from Brazil in 1788 and were a huge hit. Intense breeding all over Europe meant that by 1848 there were more than 520 cultivars – a number that has ballooned to a staggering 8,000 today.
The color fuchsia was first introduced as the color of a new dye patented in 1859 by a French chemist. The dye was renamed magenta later in the same year, to celebrate a victory of the French army in 1859. The first recorded use of fuchsia as a color name in English was in 1892.
Fuchsia BOTANY AND TAXONOMY ~ There are apparently over 8000 species and varieties of Fuchsia. They have two naturally occurring homes; in Latin America and in New Zealand. They are part of the Family Onagraceae. These are a group of flowering plants called ‘willowherb or evening primrose’. There are lots of interesting plants in this family with uses that range from lovely garden plants to ones used for medicine.
The Hummingbird Fuchsia, Fuchsia magellanica, has several synonyms, and it too is a deciduous shrub about 12 feet tall that flowers from mid-summer to mid-autumn. It develops a large juicy berry that is edible but not palatable.
Fuchsia MEDICINE ~ Fuchsia leaves and flowers have been used as a tea and this tea as a diuretic and a fever reducer. “The Chumash Indians used the leaves as a detergent for washing, dried as a dusting powder for cuts and wounds and sores on horses. Leaves and flowers were drunk as a decoction for the lungs or urinary tract. The Cahuilla Indians of California used wild Fuchsia as a poultice and wash for fistulas and deep pus-running ulcers. The flowers make a fine decoction for contusion type injuries.”— From Herbs & Things by Jeanne Rose (http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html)
Fuchsia produces an edible berry (fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower) that is tasty and that can be eaten as is or made into jam, jelly, and other edibles. F. splendens is said to be bad-tasting and its flavor is reminiscent of citrus and black pepper, and it can be made into jam and then it is tasty.
Hypotensive and diuretic effect of Equisetum bogotense and Fuchsia magellanica by Rodriguez, Pacheco, et all. May 1994. For Fuchsia , the active principles are related to tannins. A single oral dose of 500 mg/kg body weight Equisetum extract produced a significant increase (p < 0.05) in the urine output in rats, while in Fuchsia a reduction in diuresis was observed. —https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2650080308
Fuchsia SKINCARE ~ Jeanne Rose Cuticle oil
Fuchsia flower-infused Sunflower Oil *– 1 oz. (emollient and healing)
Rosemary essential oil – 10 drops
Lemon essential oil – 10 drops
Myrrh essential oil – 10 drops
Plai or Tea Tree essential oil – 10 drops
Ylang Ylang #1 essential oil – 10 drops.
For more info see http://jeanne-blog.com/ylang-ylang-flowers-oil/
Mix the essential oils together, then add to the chosen carrier oil and succuss thoroughly until integrated. Use this every evening on your cuticles, both fingers and toes, to keep them soft and pliable. When you have a manicure, they will easily be pushed back to reveal lovely fingernails.
10% is 90 drops of 1 oz., so the above formula is 5.5% EO at 50 drops.
1 oz = 8 drams & 30 ml x 30 drops = 900 drops
*Fuchsia Flower Infusion in Oil ~ Take any oil, I always prefer using either Olive oil or Sunflower oil. Get a small pot and fill with flowers and leaves, just cover the flowers with the oil. Let it steep. Using a bain-marie or direct flame, heat the oil until it slightly bubbles. Turn off heat. Do this several times. Do not let the oil boil or it will ruin the flowers. Let it rest. When cool, strain out the flowers & leaves by covering a container with a piece of silk or muslin (2nd best), pour the oil into the container capturing the flowers in the fabric. Squeeze the fabric to extract all the oil. Label the container. If you used Fuchsia, this is called Fuchsia flower-infused __(name)_ oil and write the date.
CULINARY USE ~ Fuchsia berry jam is really quite tasty. Make it like any other jam or jelly.
Fuchsia Jelly recipe
7 ounces of sugar
1.5 lbs. Fuchsia berries
1 fl. oz. Pectin
Juice of half a lemon
Heat the water and dissolve the sugar in it, when cool add the berries and the lemon juice. Bring to boil while stirring constantly and strain the liquid (fuchsias have a lot of seeds) and add the pectin to the strained liquid. Continue to boil until it thickens. Pour into heated glass jam jars and seal with a round of greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid. — Colchester & District Fuchsia Society
Fuchsia OTHER USES – HERB ~ A black dye is obtained from the wood. It is “very resistant of maritime exposure and tolerant of trimming and it makes for a good informal hedge in mild climates in areas near the sea. The variety “Riccartonii” is often used for this purpose. The cultivar “Prostrata” can form a carpet of growth and be used as a ground cover.” — Wikipedia
Fuchsia CONTRAINDICATIONS ~ None Known
PERSONAL STORIES THAT I CALL TOMATO TALES
“A Fuchsia Tomato Tale” ~ I fell in love with the Fuchsia flowers when I lived in Big Sur in 1963 – 1969. They seemed to grow wild wherever I lived. The flowers were so vivid especially contrasted with the huge Redwood trees which surrounded my different homes there. Only when I moved further south to the Sun Gallery south of Gorda and lost the trees, then the Fuchsia grew only on the shady side of my house. Driving south along the coast near the town of Big Sur was a gallery/nursery that sold Fuchsias. I am sad to say that I never stopped there as I was always in a hurry to get home. That lovely place is gone now, and I wish that I had become more familiar with the plants then. When I moved totally to San Francisco in the spring of 1969 to the home I live in now, the first thing I planted in 1970 was a tree-like Fuchsia. It is still growing and entwines itself around the Liquidamber tree. Fuchsias are beautiful and I use their leaves and flowers in a product that I make called Bruise Juice.
I have also had two accidents where the Fuchsia came in handy. I hit my hand with a heavy board in Spring 1972 and grabbed the first plant I could see which was Fuchsia in flower, made a thick infusion, and put by hand in the warm flowery water. The flowers have no odor, but the infusion smelled green and vegetative and rather healing. My hand stopped throbbing almost immediately and was healed within a few days. Also, I caught a finger between a pincer like meeting of two boards, received a contusion, immediately thought of the Fuchsia and again made an infusion. This was so soothing and once again worked to heal and soothe.